I have dined with lords and ladies, chatted with Queen Victoria, and been formally received by the Emperor Napoleon, yet my most cherished memories come not from the fine salons of Europe, but from a leaky tent, a bark canoe, my rockhammer, compass and theodolite, and the vast and mysterious wilderness of Canada.
Am I an explorer? A surveyor? A scientist? I am none of these by training but all of these by trade. After only one year at the university I left to work in my uncle's London counting house. I became so proficient at running his affairs that I was sent on to Wales to oversee his mining interests. While there I developed a passionate interest in coal. Through diligent research and the study of fossils I eventually discovered the origins of coal, settling the age-old scientific debate once and for all.
Whether through my work with coal, or my renown as a geological map-maker my name came to the attention of the Government of the Province of Canada as a person qualified to explore and report on the mineral wealth of this land. I gladly returned to Montréal the city of my birth and early youth to found the Geological Survey of Canada. Through my work with the survey I laid the foundations for an understanding of geology in Canada, explored some of the most fascinating geological formations in the world, discovered fossils that changed our understanding of the origins of life, and saved the government money by mapping out the geology of possible mining sites and exposing mining hoaxes that could have cost the government, and private investors, millions of dollars